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Jan 18, 2020

Let's Talk About Mental Health

I was hoping to open a discussion on mental health. I know a lot of people silently struggle with loneliness and even depression. How do you deal? And how can you reach out to others here in Japan? I've recently developed a passion for this and I'm looking for ways that I can contribute. I've done a bit of research and so far found "TELL (Tokyo English Lifeline)". Please feel free to share information and your own thoughts regarding this issue.

perchedelsewhere

perchedelsewhere

The world is my home so here I am exploring different parts of it as much as I can. Currently residing in Tokyo, Japan.

19 Answers



  • genkidesu

    on Jan 19

    Such an incredibly important topic! I think it's definitely hard, depending on where in Japan people live. My local hospital (Uonuma Kikan) offers mental health services, but only in Japanese. I think it's difficult to find English-language services out here, and often it would be a matter of going to Tokyo. I know that Tokyo Medical & Surgical Clinic (across from Tokyo Tower) have mental health services, but the only problem is that they don't take JNHI. It's an option for those who may be here in Japan with health insurance from their home countries that they can bill it to, but otherwise I think it would end up being quite pricey out of pocket. Would love to see if we could get a bit of a round-up of services, as I think it's something that expats, particularly those without Japanese language capability, could really benefit from.

    1
  • ReishiiTravels

    on Jan 20

    I live in the countryside and it is particularly difficult to find help. One of my friends ended up returning home because of the lack of help. I do find that talking to my friends help, but even with my Japanese friends, I don't think it is taken as seriously as it is in the West.

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  • SalarymanJim

    on Jan 20

    Great thread! This is going back a few years now but I seemed to have some trouble with anxiety which basically resulted in having a bunch of panic attacks which rendered me having a really hard time going about even daily life for a short period. I was an ALT at the time and luckily it happened during the summer holidays so I didn't have to deal with work or anything like that. I'm not sure what it stemmed from but I think it was a combination of a bunch of things -- shitty job, relationship problems, a bunch of friends leaving Japan all around the same time, thinking maybe I should move back home but how. etc. Anyway, I remember very clearly there just being one day during this time when my partner went out for work in the morning and I was alone, and I just really had no idea how I was going to get through the day. It really scared me. So, I found that taking small steps toward resolving the issue immediately started to help. Even just doing the research into English-speaking doctors (or even better, a doctor from my own country) made me feel a little better. From there actually speaking to a doctor proved to be a massive help (along with a prescription of diazepam). And then from there, well yea, talking about it and having just a few people aware that I was struggling with something. So, yea, taking positive steps - talking, do a bit of research, exercise, taking stock of things -- can really help.

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  • genkidesu

    on Jan 21

    Just wanted to share this site that I found, after trying to delve into this topic more... https://www.imhpj.org/ The site is International Mental Health Professionals in Japan, and there's a directory where you can search for an English speaking mental health provider here. Some even offer online options from the looks of it, which might be useful for those in more rural or remote locations.

    1
  • Bella

    on Jan 21

    When i was living in the countryside and most of my friends left, I was quite depressed. I struggled for more than a year then I finally decided to move to a bigger city. It was quite tough, still. But I tried to make new friends and TRAVEL more. It helped a lot. Also, I used this website where you can CHAT with people when you are feeling depressed. I forgot the website though (sorry). But it really helped me to be less lonely.

    0
  • JapanRamen

    on Jan 31

    I am just personally really glad that you brought it up and want to do something about it. I just saw someone on of the foreigner in Japan facebook groups posting something like "Hi. I just want a friend, someone who I can talk to. Help?" and the person got quite a few positive messages. I thought that was really nice, and it shows that not enough people know where they can reach out for help.

    0
  • Wow, I'm very sorry for the delayed response, but I am so happy to see all the comments! Thank you for sharing everyone. I'll update if I discover anything new. I think some would be hesitant to actually consult a doctor. I guess people just need friends.. But finding friends in Japan is quite challenging, isn't it? Or is that just me? The Meetup app is pretty good since there are a lot of fun activities that you can get involved in! Groups like Tokyo Gaijins also have a lot of fun social events.

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  • @genkidesu I also heard that you are given a limited amount of time to talk to a therapist? I'm not sure. But yeah it does seem like a struggle to find support. TELL looks pretty promising, even if I haven't tried it myself.

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  • @SalarymanJim it's so good to hear that you found your way through it! I agree, consistently doing little things for yourself really helps.

    0
  • @JapanRamen thanks so much for sharing! Yes, I personally think it's quite challenging to make deep connections in Japan.

    0
  • genkidesu

    on Feb 14

    @perchedelsewhere usually most therapy sessions are around 45 minutes to an hour, so it can definitely be hard if you get to a point where you'd like to keep talking and it's time to wrap things up. I think ultimately the best thing is to try and create a support network (friends, co workers, neighbors, whatever the case may be!) so that the challenges of life in Japan are easier to mitigate!

    0
  • TheHikingAlto

    on Feb 29

    TELL is a good resource. In Japan, counseling is not covered by insurance, but psychiatry is. Tokyo has some resources, though, and to avoid libel will word this carefully, there is one that is prominent in google searches, named for a Tokyo neighbourhood that I have had friends (especially female ones) share very negative experiences with. There is also clinic that does trauma therapy in English in Tokyo (HEART is the neame) that has been highly spoken of by someone I trust.

    1
  • TonetoEdo

    on Jun 24

    A source that I encountered on a visit to Thailand - https://www.thelifechangepeople.com/counseling-retreat/ You might think that a holiday is a luxury, but this counseling service is relatively economical and time efficient while providing a restful retreat from working life. I had the good fortune to receive counseling with a psycholoosist who works with this retreat when I was on holiday in Thailand, and I was impressed by the professional treatment and follow up I received. My perspective on work, family, and relationships was profoundly influenced. I'd like to go back when I can to do a full-on retreat.

    0
  • genkidesu

    on Jun 27

    @TonetoEdo that's a great idea! I personally can't wait until the day that counselling/therapy is seen as routine as going to get a dental checkup or eye test. I think society is getting there with acceptance, slowly!

    0
  • TonetoEdo

    on Jun 27

    @genkidesu I hear you on the normalizing of emotional/mental health. That's one reason I recommend that retreat - the counselors help clients work on long-standing issues, of course. But they also provide life coaching about careers, life plans. There are coaches like that here in Japan, but they're hard to find and they cost a lot of yennies.

    0
  • TonetoEdo

    on Jun 27

    Not specifically in Japan, but available online, is 7 Cups - https://www.7cups.com/ Has anybody had a positive experience with this? I wonder if there are cross-cultural support communities there. Sometimes, it's helpful to get perspective from other people who live abroad.

    0
  • genkidesu

    on Jun 27

    @TonetoEdo haven't used the service personally, but I'm glad to see online options expanding. I know therapists who offer services via Zoom, so it's heartening to know that there are more and more ways to connect with help even if a therapist isn't physically nearby.

    0
  • Celia

    on Jul 3

    This is a great topic! It seems within Asian cultures, there is more stigma towards receiving treatment for mental health. It's almost seen as a taboo. For these reasons, I believe it's important to open dialogue on mental health and normalize mental health issues and treatments. I have dealt with anxiety for most of my life. Through treatment, I consider myself to be in remission or highly functional despite struggling with occasional anxiety. But, keeping check of my inner dialogue, and practicing mindfulness are activities that I consistently need to practice. For medication, I currently see an English speaking psychiatrist here in Tokyo. What I've noticed about my experience here is that compared to sessions in the US, they are extremely short. For therapy, I schedule a weekly virtual meeting with a therapist in the US. I also use self-care apps to increase awareness and acquire tools to better deal with anxiety-inducing situations.

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  • TonetoEdo

    on Aug 3

    A caution - be sure to contact legitimate organizations. TELL, https://www.imhpj.org/, and medical clinics. There is an American in Tokyo with a tarnished history with mental health counseling, currently going by a Fronch variation of his name.

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